Published online by Cambridge University Press: 30 January 2020
The conventional wisdom is that racial attitudes, by forming through early socialization processes, are causally prior to most things political, including whites' party identifications. Yet a broad literature demonstrates that partisanship can shape mass attitudes. The author argues that this influence extends even to presumptively fundamental predispositions like racial attitudes. The study applies cross-lagged models to panel data from the 1990s and 2000s to demonstrate that whites align their racial attitudes with their party loyalties. The results demonstrate that partisanship has a more pronounced influence in the latter time period, which is consistent with a view that changes in the political context can make partisanship a more likely causal force on other attitudes. Racial concerns not only provide a foundation for political conflict: my results reveal that political processes can increase or decrease racial animus.